Page:The Yellow Book - 01.djvu/213

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195
By George Egerton

that is to bring me kudos and make countless thousands rejoice. It is dimmed a little, I must nurse it tenderly.

Jerk, jerk, jangle—stop.—Bother the bell! We pull up to drop some passengers, the idiots! and, as I live, she overtakes us! How the men and women cede her the middle of the pavement! How her figure dominates it, and her great feet emphasise her ridiculous haste! Why should she disturb me? My nerves are quivering pitifully; the sweet inner light is waning, I am in mortal dread of losing my little masterpiece. Thank heaven, we are off again. . . . .

"Charing Cross, Army and Navy, V'toria!"—Stop!

Of course, naturally! Here she comes, elbows out, umbrella waning! How the steel in her bonnet glistens! She recalls something, what is it?—what is it? A-ah! I have it!—a strident voice, on the deck of a steamer in the glorious bay of Rio, singing:

"Je suis le vr-r-rai pompier,
Le seul pompier . . . ."

and la miòla snaps her fingers gaily and trills her r's; and the Corcovado is outlined clearly on the purple background as if bending to listen; and the palms and the mosque-like buildings, and the fair islets bathed in the witchery of moonlight, and the star-gems twinned in the lap of the bay, intoxicate as a dream of the East.

"Je suis le vr-r-rai pompier,
Le seul pompier . . . ."

What in the world is a pompier? What connection has the word with this creature who is murdering, deliberately murdering, a delicate creation of my brain, begotten by the fusion of country and town?

"Je suis le vr-r-rai pompier, . . . ."

I am